Supreme Court Rejects ‘Independent State Legislature’ Theory in Elections Case
Summary from AllSides News Team
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 against North Carolina lawmakers, who argued the U.S. Constitution exempted state legislatures from judicial review in election cases.
Key Quotes: Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said the Constitution’s Elections Clause “does not insulate state legislatures from the ordinary exercise of state judicial review.” Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch dissented, saying the ruling unnecessarily committed the Federal Judiciary to an “uncertain path.”
For Context: The “independent state legislature” theory has been used in legal arguments to defend purportedly gerrymandered congressional districts and to oppose state court rulings on absentee ballot policies during the 2020 election. If the Supreme Court had accepted it, it could have allowed state legislatures to pass election policies with little oversight from courts.
How the Media Covered It: Coverage in right-rated outlets often framed the “independent state legislature” theory as mundane, with Fox News (Right bias) simply stating the ruling meant “state judges do have the power to override state legislatures.” Fox also cited “GOP advocates” concerned that state courts could “intervene in future election proceedings.” Meanwhile, coverage from left-rated outlets often framed the theory as “fringe,” with Axios (Lean Left bias) calling the case a “sweeping conservative bid to control elections.” Politico (Lean Left bias) said the theory would have given state legislators “unchecked power to set election rules.”
Featured Coverage of this Story
From the LeftSupreme Court rejects sweeping conservative bid to control elections
The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected one of Republicans’ most audacious attempts to control elections.
The big picture: In a 6-3 decision, the justices said states' election laws can be challenged in court — a rebuke to a burgeoning conservative movement that has sought to block the courts from hearing such cases.
Context: A group of North Carolina GOP lawmakers had asked the court to embrace a sweeping legal theory called the independent state legislature doctrine.
The theory holds that state legislatures have total control over their state's election rules, including the procedures that govern...
From the CenterSupreme Court rules against North Carolina Republicans over election law theory
In a major election-law decision, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that although the Constitution gives state legislatures the power to regulate federal elections, state courts can supervise the legislature’s exercise of that power. By a vote of 6-3, the court rejected the so-called “independent state legislature theory,” holding that the North Carolina Supreme Court did not violate the Constitution when it set aside a congressional map adopted by the state’s legislature.
Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, in an opinion joined by two of his conservative colleagues, Justices Samuel Alito and...
From the RightSupreme Court justices rule state lawmakers do not have exclusive control over elections in key decision
The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that state judges do have the power to override state legislatures when it comes to how federal elections are carried out.
In a 6-3 opinion authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the high court ruled that the Elections Clause of Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution "does not insulate state legislatures from the ordinary exercise of state judicial review."
Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson were in the majority. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, in which Justice Neil Gorsuch...